WIP: Intro to Coffee Shop
Original Fictional Characters
Veronica’s summer isn’t shaping up to be what she had in mind…
Word count: 2294
Warnings: Language, None
This is an Original Fiction piece. This story does not feature the man many of you are used to seeing me write. I will not be sharing the whole story online, but I will share bits and pieces as I continue work on my first true novel. It’s about 9000 words so far and I’m really excited to see the story developing on its own!
Scrolling absently through the internet I listen to my friend’s incessant chatter over the phone. The car lights out the big bay window catch my eye and I begin to think about our friendship, not really listening to what she has to say. I feel like I’ve been gone so long that it seems like our connection is already starting to wither. She’s dealing with a new baby and I’m dealing with a sick parent. I wonder if we truly had anything in common to begin with other than our job at the office. This thought fills me with a cold sadness, so I reach for my coffee to add some warmth to my insides.
Just as I am about to cut the call short the woman on the other end of the line switches gears and asks, “So, how are things? I know you don’t get a lot of time away from your mom, but are you getting out and doing things? I mean, it is your hometown. You grew up there. You know people, right?”
A car honk outside garners my attention and I watch as a man throws his hands up at the car and continues his way across the street shaking his head in disgust. He enters the coffee shop, mumbling to himself in Spanish and he doesn’t seem very happy. The girls working behind the counter yell out to him in the same fluent tongue and he looks around the shop, his eyes landing on me and he smiles sheepishly. His smile does things to me and now I’m filled with a different heat, and not from the coffee.
“Oh my mom?” I ask, my thoughts truly elsewhere now as I watch him move gracefully around the shop. He walks behind the counter and kisses one of the girls on the cheek and I look away. My eyes land on the latest gossip story making headlines and I close the computer screen. I shake my head, even though my friend can’t see my frustration. “Taking care of her is pretty full time… My aunt comes by every night and sits with her for a few hours just so I can get out.”
The quiet voice on the end of the line says, “Well that’s something, at least. How do you keep busy?”
I can picture her in the baby’s nursery I helped paint. Sighing, I look at my watch. This time of night, I imagine her rocking in the chair, nursing the baby and inhaling the inherent sweet smell of babies. Taking off my reading glasses, I pinch the bridge of my nose as the image in my mind switches to me with a baby. Those are not thoughts I can entertain right now and I work to shove them out of my mind.
Even if her interest is feigned, I decide to take it. “You know I always said I wanted to write? Well, I’m taking time to do that. Yea, it’s my home town and all, but anyone I would have had connections with moved on to the city and those that stayed behind already have about three kids at our age and no offense, but that makes adult conversations tough when they are thinking about play dates and I’m worrying about trying to get appointments with the doctors.”
“Hey, I understand. That doesn’t hurt my feelings. I have babies on the brain and you don’t. And you may not believe me, but sometimes I’m jealous of you. I mean, not the sick mom part, but you got to walk away. Life wasn’t what you wanted. You needed a change and you got a chance to make it happen. Use it, girl. Build a new life. Make some new memories. Find a hot guy. Any hot guys?” she giggles.
He comes back into my line of vision, beginning to put up the chairs for the night as a few of the other customers prepare to make their exit. “I don’t know,” I reply. “I haven’t really been looking. I’m at home with mom, the doctor’s office or the grocery store.”
A large crash from the back of the kitchen makes me jump and she can hear it through the phone. “Goodness! What was that? Where are you know?”
He runs back into the kitchen to check on the commotion and the other girl at the counter continues wiping up, shrugging at me, not too concerned with the noise. She turns to wash her hands at the sink and I look out the window as the sky finally turns dark. Almost time to go home. My heart sinks. “I’m at a local coffee shop.” I huff in disbelief. “It’s actually really good; they make great sweets and sandwiches and there’s free WiFi.”
“Mmhm… Weren’t you the girl that made fun of people who looked camped out at the coffee shop?” she chides and I can hear quiet baby cooing through the phone.
“Well, it’s the only spot in town; unless I decide to become a lush. If I want to develop a drinking problem, there are more than enough places like that around here.” Not that I’d have to go anywhere, thinking of the stocked and locked liquor cabinet in Dad’s study.
“Good God, Veronica, what kind of hillbilly village are you in?” she laughs.
I smile again as a group of teenagers walk down the sidewalk, obviously heading back from the creek, some of them still dripping wet from an evening swim. “The kind I’m going to write about,” I answer truthfully. “God, honey. This place is unreal. It’s a little backwoods. Everyone knows everybody. You can’t really keep a secret. There’s a different hierarchy of things. A definite ‘have and have not’ kind of place.”
I can hear her shift the baby in her arms. “Which were you growing up?”
“Oh, I had the fortunate privilege of being a ‘Have.’ Not that it got me too far in life. Sure, an ivy league education Daddy paid for, but look at me know. Playing nurse maid to the woman who controlled my every movement growing up.”
“You still hate her?”
Sighing, I don’t know that there is an easy answer to that question. Maybe I’m better friends with this woman than I thought just a few moments ago. “Damn. If you ever decide to give up accounting you should think about becoming a therapist, because you seem- hold on.”
I pause the conversation as he crosses the room towards me with a fresh cup of coffee in his hand. He always brings me a cup to go on nights he works; I never asked, he just does.
I like watching the way he moves, so confident and sure. We talk sometimes, but I don’t know his name. He’s so quiet I don’t even know if he speaks English very well. Working in a coffee shop can’t be his only job. He’s too fit. He sets the cup down on my table and moves to wipe down the others by the windows. As he leans across the table the muscles stretch across his back and his shirt rises, exposing his dark skin and a tattoo peeking out from the waistband of his jeans. I bite back the sound I want to make and I can see a small smirk on his face. Fuck him. He’s doing that on purpose!
“Ya know, babes, I can’t finish this conversation now.” I unplug my computer and start to pack up my things. “The shop is getting ready to close down and they’re cleaning around me, like I’m in the way,” I chuckle for her benefit. Inside I’m on fire. Angry that he would act that way; too cocky, too sure of his good looks. I roll my eyes. “Besides, if I’m gonna have any kind of peaceful sleep tonight, I can’t be thinking about my complicated relationship with my mother.”
“Alright, I get it. But when you’re ready to talk, I’m here,” she says. “I gotta put Henry down anyway. We’ll talk again soon okay? We’re more than moms and daughters. We do have things in common besides work you know…” she says before we say our goodbyes.
How did she develop that mom skill already? The baby is less than two months old and already she can read people’s minds? Spooky.
Reaching in my bag, I fumble for my keys. Dammit. Where are they? Scanning the table they aren’t next to my sunglasses or under my rumpled napkin. I frantically begin to search my laptop bag, pulling out discarded notes and printed copies of pages from my story.
“Mira.” Look. I remember that from college Spanish. “I think they’re at your feet,” he says, his accent thick and rich, reminding me of the coffee he fixed just for me. Sweeping his feet under the table he kicks the keys out into the aisle. He crouches to retrieve them and I can feel his eyes skimming up my muscled calves and thighs, stopping at the hem of my shorts before bringing his eyes to my face as he hands them to me. “Nice key chain,” he says, noticing my choice of sports teams. “They’ve had a good season.”
“Yea,” I mumble, smiling appreciatively as I repack the bag. “I keep hoping I can get an afternoon off to go catch a game in person, but no such luck.”
He catches the empty water bottle that rolls across the table and says, “That sucks. Maybe your suerte will change.”
When I rise to stand he moves back slowly, giving me space. I catch a whiff of his cologne and his manly scent. He smells like a warm summer afternoon, fresh cut grass and sweat- the good kind. Like someone who is outdoors a lot. I feel a little rocked on my feet at the affect just his personal odor has on me. Regaining my composure, I pull the purse strap over my head and let it hit my hip before reaching for my computer bag and hoisting it on my shoulder. I reply, “God, I only hope so! I could use some luck!”
The handsome man chuckles and quickly moves to clean my trash before I can, handing me the fresh cup of coffee. He follows me to the door, ready to lock up when I leave and as I step into the summer night, I swear I hear him wish me sweet dreams.
The sound echoes in my head as I walk to my car. The air is hot and sticky and I move slowly. A kid riding his bike down the sidewalk shouts at me and I move out of his way. I cross the street, wary of any kids out for a late drive. Unlocking the doors I throw my bags into the passenger seat. Feeling eyes watching me, I climb into the car before I turn to look. Reaching to turn on the AC I see the good looking man from the coffee shop observing me.
My mind mulls this over as I move the car onto the road. For the last three weeks my life has been at a standstill. My mother is a diabetic who doesn’t take care of herself. I still remember getting the call at work from my aunt that she had passed out and was being rushed to the hospital with stroke-like conditions. I decide not to dwell on any of those details right now, if I wish to have any decent sleep tonight.
With no one else to care for her, I’ve moved back home. Fortunately my job in billing and finances for an insurance firm allows me to work on the computer anywhere. I’m able to work during the day while mom rests or we watch her soap operas together. And she nags at me about how I should get my life together at my age. I’m thirty-two years old and living with my mother again. My life is too complicated for the affections of a man right now.
Pulling into the driveway of our two story house, I let the cool air from the vents sooth me. I know the house will feel hotter than an oven. I look over the front of the house and smile. When I was a little girl, it always reminded me of a face. The two windows up high as the eyes and the large porch as a big sweeping grin. Lights flicker in the front room but the rest of the house is dark. I can see the stray cat on the railing, wondering if she’ll get fed tonight. She should know by now Aunt Sharon won’t feed her a thing. If she doesn’t want to get scolded, she should learn to wait till later when I’m taking out the trash after Mama goes to bed.
The porch light flashes and I know Aunt Sharon is ready to leave. I turn off the car and slowly gather my supplies, fortifying myself for whatever may welcome me on the other side.
The still air greets me as I cross the threshold. I can see my aunt outlined in the shadow by the entry to the living room where Mama stays now. She’s too frail to get up the stairs and I didn’t want to risk trying to move her around the house too much. It was easier to let her set up camp downstairs. “Hey, Aunt Sharon,” I call out. “How’s our pretty lady tonight?”
Before I can make three steps down the hallway a glass shatters against the wall in the other room and a raggedy voice yells, “Get that bitch out of my house!”
So that’s how tonight is going to be.
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